How well do you know your workforce?

by Angela Splinter

Trucking is experiencing a shift in workforce demographics unlike any other industry in Canada. Our ranks are increasingly diverse by age, gender, and culture, and this affects human resources (HR) as you look to hire, train, manage, and retain an entirely new generation of workers.

Let’s take a look at some of these trends and how to address them.

Aging workforce
The average truck driver is now 49 years of age, seven years older than the average worker in Canada. We’re seeing similar trends in other occupations.

Managing an aging workforce has its challenges. Older workers are more likely to develop disabilities requiring some form of accommodation in the workplace. They may need to reduce working hours, requiring a re-think of traditional approaches to scheduling. They are also more likely to require training or up-skilling as new technologies or techniques emerge, and you may need to be flexible in order to find a training approach that works best.

The effort is worth it. Retaining older employees may require flexibility on your part, but their knowledge, experience, and institutional memory are assets to your business.

While on the topic of flexible approaches, let’s talk about millennials, people born from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s. Pay attention to what this generation is looking for – and accommodate and manage it – and you will soar above the competition.

At Trucking HR Canada, we surveyed young people in trucking to gauge what attracted them in the first place and what it will take to keep them in it. Work-life balance is important.

So is career advancement; coaching and mentoring; and investments in training and professional development. This applies to every occupation, from truck driver to safety manager.

We also surveyed employers about millennials and were surprised that only 50% have formal initiatives to recruit and retain younger workers. To the other 50%: it’s time to get started.

Women in the workforce
The low representation of women in trucking is a trend that needs reversing – a challenge for a male-dominated industry. We see this particularly in recruiting and retaining truck drivers but also in other occupations as well.

The industry needs new appro-aches in order to ensure that it can reach 50% of the available labor pool. As employers focus on identifying and addressing barriers that impede women’s interest in our industry, and support their professional success, we will see gradual change.

Through our national Women with Drive initiative, we are starting to see some change.

Our annual leadership summit has emerged as the go-to industry event on the topic. In 2018, we will include a panel that brings more male managers into the discussion, recognizing that this issue is vital to everyone in Canada’s trucking industry.

On a practical level, employers may also want to consider more mentorship initiatives. In our industry surveys, two out of three women stated that they wanted more access to mentorship opportunities.

Know your own demographics
If you want to address and manage demographic shifts more effectively, you need to understand the makeup of your own workforce. I’m often surprised by the number of fleets that don’t take this simple first step.

Knowing your own workforce means not only knowing who they are, but what matters to them most. Engage with them and ask them directly. Then, act on it.

Your HR person or personnel also needs to be in the loop on all aspects of your business. Including your “people” plan as part of your overall strategic business plan will keep everything aligned and in gear as you smoothly shift your HR approaches.


Angela Splinter leads Trucking HR Canada, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing the human resources challenges and opportunities in the trucking and logistics sector. Learn more at or follow them @TruckingHR.

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